Divorce and the Matrimonial Home

Handshake between a man and woman

A relationship break down is a stressful time for all concerned. There are always a number of things for you to consider. One of the most important is the family home or any shared property as in many cases this is likely to be your most valuable asset.

The home can be divided in several different ways, and these include:

  1. Selling the home and divide the proceeds.
  2. Arrange for one of you to buy the other out.
  3. Keep the home and don’t change who owns it. If you have children, one partner could live in the property until the children are, say, 18 or leave school.
  4. Transfer part of the value of the property from one partner to the other as part of any financial settlement. The partner who gave up a share of their ownership rights would keep an interest in the home. This means that when it is sold he or she will receive a percentage of its value.
  5. Transfer the whole of the value of the property from partner to the other as part of any financial settlement. The partner who have up their ownership rights could be granted a Charge over the property to secure their financial interest.

What are my rights if we own the property together?

If you are a legal joint owner of the property, you have the right of occupation unless there is a court order restricting you from being there or within a specified distance of the property.

If you and your spouse are named on the mortgage, you are both responsible for the repayments. It is advisable to have a discussion early on to confirm how the mortgage is going to be paid during your separation. If either of you fail to keep up payments, there will be arrears on your joint mortgage which can negatively impact your credit rating or ultimately lead to repossession of the property.

What rights do I have if my spouse is the sole legal owner?

If the property is owned in the sole name of your spouse but you both lived in it as the family home, you should register your home rights with the Land Registry. This is relatively straightforward and will register your interest as a charge on the title register, so the property cannot be sold without your knowledge.

What happens when children are involved?

If there are children involved, the focus will be to disrupt them as little as possible. The children’s needs are the court’s first consideration. Property division in divorce needs to take into account the fact that children require a family home with each parent, so wherever possible the court will look to see if a second home can be bought for the other spouse. Sadly, this is not always possible and sometimes there is only enough capital to rehouse one spouse (usually the one with the primary care for the children) while the other spouse may not be in a position to purchase a property themselves, at least not immediately.

For further information about Divorce or Financial Settlements contact one of Alexander JLO’s expert team of lawyers specialising in these areas.

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